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Brian Cave who over the years has made a leading and major contribution to our campaign for Votes for Life for British citizens resident abroad, has recently written the following letter to Glyn Davies, MP who has tabled an Overseas Electors Bill:
Dear Mr. Davies,
I am delighted to see you have tabled an Overseas Electors Bill. I have long been involved with others in fighting for this, and I am here copying to various others who have tried for so long to achieve this.
I imagine that several might be writing to you with letters of support. One of them (Roger Boaden) drew my attention to your initiative. Harry Shindler (aged 95) has often been in touch for many years on this issue. Rodney Harper years ago launched the web site http://www.votes-for-expat-brits.com to publicise the matter.
It hit me forcibly when the Blair Government reduced my right to vote from 20 years to 15. How dare any Government remove my right to vote! Thereby removing my right to representation to the Government which acts in my name as a British Citizen and on whom I depend for my income.
If I and my wife and thousands like us had had the vote restored, the current political events may have been avoided. Harry Shindler visited Mr. Skidmore earlier this year and had the promise of this Bill. Why, one asks, has the Government itself not tabled it?
I am sure we will be interested to read the details of the Bill as soon as we can.
Brian Cave (aged 85)
Resident in France but totally dependent on the UK for finance, and healthcare support.
Brian Cave Gourdon 46300 France
Tel:- +33 (0) 565 414269
You will find below a sample letter to his/her UK constituency MP from an overseas voter living in another EU member state but concerned by the impact of Brexit on his/her continuing pension and voting rights.
If you are a British citizen living within another EU member state but still retain the right to vote in UK elections and share these concerns, why not use this letter as a model to write to your home constituency MP in the UK?
I write to you as one of your overseas electors having lived in your constituency within the last 15 years so still vote there.
My reason for writing is to express my concern over two aspects of the Government’s recent policy paper “safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU”. The first of these relates to pension up-rating. This new policy is of enormous benefit to expatriates and greatly to be welcomed. However it is most unfortunate that it is “subject to reciprocity”.
The Prime Minster, in her Lancaster House speech, said that Brexit “means taking control of our own affairs, as those who voted in their millions to leave the European Union demanded we must. So we will take back control of our laws and our laws will be made in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.” But “subject to reciprocity” will mean that, as a British state pensioner living e.g. in Germany, France, Spain or elsewhere in the EU, whether or not my British pension is up-rated will be decided in Berlin, Paris, Madrid or where?
Before I retired, I was told that as I had spent time working overseas, I needed to make “additional voluntary contributions” and that, if I did so, I would receive a full state pension. So I did so. Nobody told me that this full pension would be subject to Britain remaining in the European Union and, were we to leave, reciprocal arrangements being agreed with the state where I happened to be living. Is it just to impose such additional conditions after the payments have already been made?
Also in the 17th January speech the PM said: “I recognise how important it is to provide business, the public sector, and everybody with as much certainty as possible as we move through the process. So where we can offer that certainty, we will do so.” So I write to ask you as my MP to make representations to the Government that they should live up to what the PM said then and offer pensioners such as myself the certainty that up-rating of our pensions will be maintained regardless of decisions taken by foreign governments.
The second aspect is that, as a British, and therefore EU, citizen living in another member state, I am entitled to vote here in municipal elections. That is something I always do and it is a right that I value, particularly where it enables me to vote for my local borough’s governing party. So I was disappointed to see that there is no reference to voting rights in the policy paper.
I want to continue to be allowed to vote in such elections here, and I also wish to see EU nationals in the UK maintaining the same right. That would be consistent with the PM’s expression of our future relationship with the EU that she also set out in her speech. May I therefore please also ask you to urge such a policy upon the Government?
Let us know if you’ve had difficulties similar to British expatriate Dan Almond (who comments below) in trying to vote as an overseas elector in the recent 2017 General Election:
“My wife and I live in Italy and have done since Sept 2015. We are residents.”
“We decided to register to vote in the 2017 General Election with Wandsworth Borough Council (Tooting constituency was our last UK address).”
“We received confirmation by email from WBC on 8 May that our registration had been successful.”
“We chose to vote by post rather proxy and informed WBC by email on 11 May.”
“Having received nothing by 30 May I rang WBC and was told that our postal votes would go out in the next few days. I responded by saying hadn’t they left it rather late to do this. They didn’t think so saying it was being delivered first class.”
“We received our postal votes at lunchtime of June 8 leaving us no time at all to return it.”
“I feel (and have told them so) that Wandsworth Electoral Services left this far too late (as proven by the date we received them) and effectively denied us the right to vote in the election. I have contacted the returning officer, the head of Electoral Services at WBC, and both the Labour and Conservative candidates (both of whom thought it was appalling).”
“I am left wondering how many other overseas voters lost out in the same way and where we stand? “
In support of our campaign to secure voting rights for all British citizens living aboard, we are encouraging the British expat community to complete this survey of British citizens over the age of 18 who are resident outside the UK. It is part of a research project run by Dr Susan Collard, from the Politics Department of the University of Sussex. You will be able to see the survey results in due course at: https://www.facebook.com/britonsabroad/
The survey has three aims. The first is to collect some general data on the British who live abroad, such as age, gender, place of residence, level of education, when and why they left the UK and whether or not they might return.
The second aim is to investigate awareness of, and views on, UK voting rights and practices, with particular reference to the EU referendum, the 2015 and upcoming “snap” June 2017 general elections.
The third aim is to seek responses to the prospect of Brexit, not just from those who live in other EU countries but from elsewhere in the world as well.
Key links to have a look at are as follows:
- There are some important posts on the Britons Abroad Facebook page below and relating to voter registration for the June election for those who still have the right to vote: https://www.facebook.com/britonsabroad/
- Link to short survey on impact of Brexit on voting intentions in the June election: https://sussex.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/quick-june-election-survey
- Link to longer survey which includes general profiling questions, a section on Brexit, and sections on voter registration and voting rights: https://sussex.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/britons-abroad-2
We would much appreciate your support in completing this survey.
The research paper below was requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs and was commissioned, overseen and published by the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional affairs.
It addresses the impact and consequences of Brexit on the acquired rights of EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU-27.
The study (see Executive Summary on page 8) examines the possibilities of using the concept of acquired rights to safeguard and maintain the rights of these individuals following the UK’s withdrawal.
It concludes that in view of two possible scenarios (withdrawal with or without agreement), it would always be better for citizens on both sides if the negotiators reached an agreement.
However, irrespective of whether there is an agreement or not, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) will continue to offer a means of defending the right to residence and other related rights , such as the right to private and family life, for as long as the ECHR remains part of UK law.
More details of the acquired rights of citizens in European Union law can be found in Part II of the study and specifically:
Chapter 8 (page 45): Rights involved in the withdrawal negotiations – in particular , free movement and residence.
Chapter 9 (page 52): Rights of Citizens and the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights.
June Wayland, a British citizen resident outside the UK now for ten years, has recently commented via this blog on the government’s proposed “Votes for Life” Bill and is suspicious as to why it was delayed until after the EU Referendum. She also resents the fact that she will lose her right to vote in five years time and “would be considered [by this fiasco of administration] no longer a British migrant! Now, where would I have gone?”
“I still have a voice, having been a British migrant for ten years (I hate the word ex-pat when everyone else is called an immigrant). However, I resent the fact that after 15 years, I would be considered no longer a British migrant! Now, where would I have gone?
I also have no doubt that the failure to table the Votes for Life Bill prior to the referendum was deliberate in order to help the Brexit side win.” Since then, many events have occurred that poses questions whether the process was carried out in the correct manner.
It’s no secret that each party that has been in power, works for itself and its members and not us, the general public. I sincerely hope that in my lifetime, improvements are made to remedy this fiasco of administration and for once, think of the people.
I refer also to the Brexit fiasco which will benefit nobody except the ones in power.”